Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Looks of Christmas Coffee

There is absolutely no reason not to dress up coffee to fit the Christmas spirit. I’m thinking why not since coffee is a good hot drink as any during this season. Here are some I found in the Internet:

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Before we go to the actual coffee beverage, here is an interesting way to arrange coffee beans while making your accompanying greetings. Now off to the looks of Christmas coffee.

Christmas Sweater Mug

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This is unmistakably Christmas sweater wrapping a hot mug of coffee. If Christmas sweaters protect us from the cold, this mug sweater protects our hands from the heat. Double purpose?

Christmas Tree and Stars on Coffee

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There is something so wonderful about looking at coffee with Christmas symbols. Does it make the coffee warmer? Maybe so, in emotions.

Coffee in Snowman Cups

christmas, coffe, coffee, cups, cute

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If this doesn’t shout Christmas coffee, I don’t know what will. Snowman, marshmallows, and coffee with snow-like top…what more can we ask for? We can never go wrong with Christmas-themed cups to lift the spirits.

Christmas Coffee Cups

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For coffee to go, Christmas coffee cups are commonly seen during this season. It admittedly adds cheer to the atmosphere while drinking coffee. Take special note of the sleeve design which can be custom-made.

Coffee with Christmas Cookie

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When coffee comes with a Christmas cookie, it definitely is Christmas. This provides so much comfort and is reminiscent of simple Christmas celebrations at home. This is what simple pleasures are made of.

Whether prepared at home or bought in commercial coffee shops, the looks of Christmas coffee can be seen everywhere, reminding us that coffee can be very much a part of Christmas celebrations. Coffee and Christmas do not usually go together but many are discovering that coffee beverage can be reinvented many times over for the holidays.

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A Very Bay Area Holiday Gift Guide

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We live in a weird and wonderful place here in the Bay Area. Rent is high. The weather is fine. The coffee is great. The ocean is right there. So, after you shell out $3,500 for a studio what do you get for your friends and family for the holidays with the few shekels leftover? Here are a few ideas:

Artisanal Blankets

Not kidding about this one. Here in Oakland I’ve literally seen people posted up at cafes with wool blankets. My office is 50 degrees as I write this. Buildings here are simply not insulated and they’re hardly heated. Enjoy your hot coffee at least partially buried under a warm wool blanket and you’re golden.

Check out the blankets made by Woolrich Woolen Mills (Pennsylvania), Pendleton (Oregon), or you could get wild and find something vintage. Here in Oakland I know you can get some unique pieces at Elder & Pine on 40th and at Mind’s Eye Vintage in Temescal Alley.

Camp Stuff


People use parks out here – something that I had to come to terms with – and it’s nearly impossible to get a campsite in the summer. That makes the winter the best time to head out. It’s cold, but it’s only California cold, so with your new artisanal blanket, you’ll be more or less good. But you need to make coffee.

I’ve literally thrown my Hario Kettle on the fire before (as you can probably tell), and while that might be the rough-and-ready way to handle water heating, there are elegant, and easier solutions. An Esbit stove is literally cheaper than some artisanal dirt I’ve purchased and half a fuel tablet will heat up 500 ml of water in a few minutes. Pair that with a Hario hand grinder, an Aeropress, a Able Disk filter, and you’ve got a pretty much flawless camp coffee setup. Need to make it extra Bay Area authentic? Pack a single origin offering from Mr. Espresso, roasting in Oakland since 1978.

If you want to spend more, go for a JetBoil. They even have a French press accessory for their standard cups.

Bling Home Coffee Gear


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If you’re a member of the landed gentry or tech aristocracy you’re probably able to splurge on the coffee lover in your life. Why not spring for something like the Blossom Brewer? It’s made and designed in California; it’s kind of like the Tesla S of the brewed coffee world. Basically you couldn’t find a sexier coffee-making appliance to put on your granite countertop.

If you’re shopping for someone who would rather get familiar with an earlier stage of the production chain, then you could also consider a sweet home roaster from Sweet Maria’s. The folks at Sweet Maria’s even put together a selection of home roasting kits to get anybody started.

Coffee Coffee Table Books


Photo via Blue Bottle.

There are so many awesome books out there. Some of them have to do with coffee. You could check out the fantastic The Third Wave Coffee by Chataro Mameoh, previously featured on Sprudge. Even if you can’t read Japanese, it will certainly look good.

Another awesome option is The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee or Modern Art Desserts by Caitlin Freeman. While the SFMOMA is closed you’ll have a hard time visiting that Blue Bottle Location. Luckily, you can make your own deserts at home. In fact, they’ve even made a handy Blue Bottle Books Tote Set. Also, while you’re at the Blue Bottle webstore make sure you grab R Is For Rosetta, a coloring book, because holy crap it’s cute.

Actually, the whole Ten Speed Press lineup is pretty worth checking out – from the Pok Pok cookbook, to The New California Wine, Manresa, to the Flour, Water, Yeast, courtesy Ken’s Artisan Bread… they make beautiful books, and they’re based here in the Bay Area.

Another Bay Area press company is McSweeney’s – get someone a subscription to Lucky Peach, or pick up the Mission Street Food cookbook, from Andrew Barnett / Linea Caffe collaborators Mission Street Food and Anthony Myint. McSweeney’s also makes beautiful books.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving


Photo by Hungry Bruno.

If you want to make sure that whoever you’re buying gifts for remembers your name for at least a few months why not go for a coffee subscription? San Francisco’s own Citizen Bean lets you buy in for three, six, or twelve months, and sends you coffee from a number of roasters. Blue Bottle offers four distinct subscriptions, including French Press, Espresso, Moka Pot and Drip varieties. And Sightglass does a subscription service with either seasonal single origins or their Owl’s Howl Espresso. Give the gift that keeps on giving and that they can’t return.

Equator Coffees, located in the North Bay, has a nice holiday package that includes three distinct blends, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg – check out our complete list of 2013 holiday blends right here.

Leif Haven (@LeifHaven) is a staff writer based in Oakland. Read more Leif Haven here.

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Should You Cream Your Coffee or Not?

coffee and milk

Coffee and cream seem to be the perfect partners. There are questions however as to whether coffee is best drank black or without cream. More than a matter of taste preference, some are actually saying that putting cream will reduce the antioxidant benefits attributed to coffee drinks.

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Health Benefits of Black Coffee

The drinking of black coffee is attributed with various health benefits. Coffee is said to have great antioxidant properties. It is also said to improve cognitive functions while reducing the risks for certain diseases like diabetes and cancer. These benefits are reaped in proper consideration of the amount and frequency it is taken as well the health condition of those who are taking it.

Like in all good things, moderation is a primary consideration. In the course of enjoying coffee drinking, people seek to discover ways that can enhance its flavor and presentation. One of the most common ways of doing this is to add cream into black coffee.

Why Add Cream

To Achieve Milder Coffee Flavor

Let’s face it. Not everyone can tolerate the strong taste of black coffee. Many would like the coffee taste with a milder and sweeter presentation. Cream and sugar easily accomplishes this.

To Enhance Coffee Flavor

Many are in the opinion that cream enhances the flavor of coffee drinks. To them, cream is able to bring out specific flavor properties of coffee which is not possible without it. This is essentially a matter of taste.

To Produce a Healthier Coffee Drink

When the creamer comes in the form of fresh milk or any milk for that matter, there is a thinking that the coffee drink becomes a healthier drink. Nothing definite has been clearly established about this and there are even contradictions to the effect. Non-dairy creamer is said to have an effect in the length of time coffee reaches the blood stream.

Interesting Trivia About Coffee and Cream

Putting cream in coffee is believed to slow down the heat loss of hot coffee. This is especially beneficial for those who take their coffee on the go and thus will not be able to drink their coffee at once. This is also said to have something to do with viscosity which science would explain as responsible for slowing down the rate of evaporation.

Should you or should you not put cream in your coffee? The best advise would be to enjoy coffee with or without cream or milk in moderation and in any safe manner that would fit your taste. Enjoy!

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Coffee and tea are both credited with the presence of antioxidants that are deemed good for human health. However, there seems to be some debate as to which offers more benefits to the human body. Is one better than the other or do they fare just the same in the health scale?

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The Similarities

Coffee and tea are both popular beverages drank most especially in the morning and usually during the rest of the day. Both can be served hot or cold, depending on the personal preference of drinkers. They also have different variants in flavor and aroma.

Both beverages are able to provide antioxidants that help fight off certain diseases. However, these two beverages contain caffeine which may be harmful to health when consumed beyond the safe level. Brewed coffee and black tea have more caffeine than their other variants such as espresso and green tea. Both are said to be effective in preventing the development of Diabetes and Liver Disease. Coffee and tea can be drank to address sleepiness and lethargy.

The Differences

The coffee beverage is obtained from beans while tea is derived from leaves, roots, flowers, herbs, or spices. As to illness and diseases, tea is said to be more effective against inflammatory disorders and arthritis while coffee is associated with its advantage in the fight against asthma and Parkinson’s Disease. Coffee and tea have their own distinct taste which is nowhere near the other.

Coffee is believed to have originated from Ethiopia while tea traces its long history to China. Each beverage is also associated with a different lifestyle. While coffee is often drank hurriedly, sipping tea requires a leisurely pace for proper enjoyment.

Which is Superior ?

Just when we thought everything has been settled in the matter of superiority between these two popular beverages, there is always one more study that will prove the benefits of each. Since it has been agreed upon that both contain helpful antioxidants albeit in varying levels, it is clear that both offer health benefits. The caveat is always on the amount taken in on a regular basis because of the presence of caffeine.

Some health advocates suggest a cup of coffee in the morning and a cup or two of tea throughout the day. There are supporters of coffee in the same manner that there are supporters of tea. More medicinal benefits are credited to tea however, but flavor preference may just be a major deciding factor.

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